Ow, my ear!

A couple of weeks ago I went over Vail Pass, elevation approximately 10,000 feet, and my ears popped on the way up and again on the way down, but not all the way–at least, my left ear didn’t pop all the way. So I’ve been suffering.

I have done the usual altitude-related things–yawning, swallowing.

I have tried drops to dissolve ear wax, which didn’t work but produced interesting popping sounds.

And I have tried some of the wackiest things I ever heard of (not that I’d heard of them before, but go around bitching about a stuffed-up ear and you hear some odd things). For instance, one remedy, supposedly offered by a friend of a friend of an airline stewardess, was to get a paper Dixie cup–very important that it was paper–hold it over the ear, and then suck on a peppermint candy.

That didn’t work.

Somebody else swore by ear candles, which I had never heard of. Well, I don’t know how I could have missed these things, in the ear section of your local health-food store. They are cones about 11 inches long–like a really long, skinny ice-cream cone impregnated with wax. What you are supposed to do is light it and stick it in your ear.

The ones I got came with NO instructions, but the woman who sold them said, “Oh, just sit down, light it, and stick it in your ear . . . I generally let it burn half way down, then blow it out and then start it again.”

I found this prospect very alarming. OTOH, the ear is driving me crazy. So I poured myself a gin & tonic, draped a towel over my shoulder, and tried it.

Well, it doesn’t actually hurt. First I heard the ocean, but I heard that when I tried the Dixie cup thing too so no big deal. Then of course I heard the forest fire in my ear, and that was kind of interesting. After about 10 minutes I blew the thing out in utter disgust and asked my husband to google “ear candles” because I was doing it wrong.

This is what he found.

The moral: always ask Uncle Cecil first.

Although, oddly enough, my ear feels better. But I’m thinking it was the G&T.

Try this, it’s the way that SCUBA divers equalise the pressure in their ears.

Take a breath, close your mouth tightly, pinch your nose, then try to breath out through your nose.

I think the Dixie cup suggestion got garbled somewhere. Holding a paper, or any material, cup over your ear won’t do anything by itself.

The way I’ve heard it is: get a paper cup, Dixie cup, plastic cup, doesn’t matter. Get a couple of paper towels or a washcloth and soak them in hot water. Wring out so they don’t drip on you. Put them in the cup and put the cup over your ear. Hold it there for a few minutes. The hot cloths create a vacuum or send their waves of heat into your ear or something other scientific that I can’t really remember. It’s supposed to help make them pop.

The reason Dixie cups or paper cups are often suggested is because that’s what they might have on a plane. If you’re not on a plane, you can use whatever supplies you have at home.

I think the SCUBA trick works the best though. Ear candles are hogwash; it’s surprising and frightening that the woman selling them didn’t even know how to use them correctly. (“Correctly” being moot since they are useless anyway.)

And here was I assuming ear candles were just regular tapers made of ear wax. Live and learn.

Well the Dixie (or whatever) cup thiing sounds like the same principle exactly as the ear candle–hot air, vacuum, ear pops.

The scuba trick didn’t work, I tried it even before the ear candle.

Even if it were the same principal, which it isn’t, how does heating air inside a sealed space equate to sticking a candle in your ear? If anything, the vacuum would be “created” at the top of the candle - near the flame - not at the end of a 10 or 12" long taper. Since when do the bottoms of candles heat up?

You can easily try it. Take an ear candle and hold it in your fist. See if you feel a vacuum in the center of your balled-up hand.

Okay, the “ear candle” is a 12-inch hollow taper. You insert the small end into your year and light the other end. That’s why heating a dixie cup seemed like pretty much the same principle.

Seems to me the dixie cup approach **missbunny ** describes could work because of the heat and humidity, not any “vaccuum”. I can see how raising the heat and moisture level in the ear area might loosen and open up a blockage in the aural canal.

I can also see how it wouldn’t do anything whatsoever, but hey, it doesn’t seem like it could do any harm. Ear candles, on the other hand, can cause a lot of damage (as mentioned in Cecil’s article.)

It does work (anecdotaly). The moist heat softens the ear wax. There is also a slight vacumn created when the air in the cup cools.

If You’re Shreck, they are.
:smiley:

In my religion, (The Church of Irreprouduceable Scientific Faith and Everlasting Funds) allow us to lay our deceased on their side and put a candle in the ear. After a while, all the bodily fats are burned up and WOW!, no more deceased.
All gone.
Like me right now. Bye :wink: